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Najib too has failed to convince Malaysians that the 18.9% Government figure was correct


Media Statement

by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The government today continued to defend its 18.9% figure of bumiputra equity ownership despite findings by an independent think tank, using new methodologies and data, that found it could be as high as 45%.

Referring to the findings of Asli's Centre for Public Policy Studies, which disputes the official statistics, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said there was no need for the government to prove the institute wrong.

Najib was quoted as saying that "we have already explained through public statements the Economic Planning Unit's (EPU) basis of calculations." He said ""the government will continue to insist on the official data. We hope this will be accepted and will not be questioned by anyone."

Such attitude taken by Najib was clearly wrong and certainly would not help to convince Malaysians that the 18.9% figure for bumiputera equity was correct. In fact, it only serves to confirm that the EPU under PM Abdullah has little or no basis to support its claim.

We maintain that the government's figure could only be verified if its data, methodology and analysis were publicized. If the government has nothing to hide, they should immediately disclose its data, methodology and analysis, just like what has done by Asli.

It's wrong and unethical for the Chairman of Asli Mirzan Mahathir to withdraw the report without a reasonable justification although we understand that he was doing so under tremendous political pressure from the Barisan Nasional Government leaders. As a leader of Asli, Mirzan is obliged to protect the integrity and reputation of the think-tank. He has destroyed the credibility of his institution beyond repair. He might as well close down the entire institution.

It must be noted that the Asli reports were prepared and presented to the Government in response to the call made by Abdullah prior to the drafting of the 9 th Malaysia Plan.

We like to impress upon Mirzan and other UMNO leaders that the government's figure could not be "vigorously defended" and certainly not the other way round.

The centre's director Dr Lim Teck Ghee has resigned in the interest of defending "the integrity of independent and non-partisan scholarship". What Dr Lim has done was heroic and his sacrifice will always be remembered by all fellow Malaysians. The non-Malays now see Dr Lim as their hero. And sooner or later, even the Malays will regard him as a hero when they realize that the 45% equity were in the hands of a select few and not distributed evenly to the Malay community.

Najib also cautioned NGOs from raising "sensitive matters" that could be seen as seditious. He was reported as saying that "initially, it could be seen as intellectual discourse but once it touches on sensitive matters, it can incite racial feelings."

We wish to remind Najib that he has no credibility to make such remarks as the whole world knows that he has not apologized for those highly sensitive remarks he made prior to the 1988 Operasi Lalang, where more than 100 leaders of political parties and NGOs were detained and incarcerated under the Internal Security Act ( ISA).

It appears to all Malaysians that from Muhyiddin Yassin to Abdullah Badawi and now Najib Tun Razak, they were all resorted to "secrecy and threats" to rule this country. Isn't "Accountability", "Reliability" and  "Transparency" part of the election pledges of the Abdullah government?

We feel proud that more NGOs have come forward to support Dr Lim Teck Ghee despite of mounting political pressure from government leaders. These include the Selangor Kuala Lumpur Chinese assembly Hall, the Writers Alliance for Media Independence (Wami) and the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ). They have all expressed the view that critics of the Asli report must use the "same or a higher level of intellectual rigour" to dispute its findings .

"As the NEP (National Economic Policy) has been central to Malaysia's political and socio-economic development, all Malaysians have the right to listen to the debates on its achievements and make their own judgments."

Stressing the need for freedom of information legislation, they also said the attacks on the centre were an assault on academic freedom and freedom of expression.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has earlier said that Mirzan's statement and apology had reduced Asli's credibility and integrity because it was without academic basis or rationale.

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang also challenged the other Barisan Nasional component parties to speak up on an issue affecting all Malaysians.

A Malaysian Today reader LC Chuah urges all Malaysians to
scrutinize the academic and professional qualifications of Dr.Lim, his experience with world-level organizations, and compare with those of his critics.


"There's no need to say anything more," he opined. So, what do you think, my fellow Malaysians?


*Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO Bureau Chief

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